Sunday, April 20, 2014

Stephanie's Pavilion Dedication

Last Saturday we celebrated the dedication of the new "Stephanie Woodard Family Pavilion" at our home away from home, University Little League. 

The celebration opened with Don Bescher sharing a few thoughts and thanking donors, and Tom Hill closing with a lovely benediction. Stephanie's mom, Jan, drove up from Round Rock, along with Stephanie's brother and his family.

I was asked to share a few words, and in honor of Stephanie's friendship and memory, the following is what I shared: 

One of my fav memories with Stephanie was sitting in the bleachers when Branson and Grey were about 9. She was bouncing between watching Dunson’s team playing on the Major and Grey’s team on the Double B. Steph went over to watch Dunson bat, and we heard a loud cheer from their stands. Dunson hit a HR over the major wall, and Steph came back to us beaming. From the dugout, Grey must have figured out what his big brother did. Not to be outdone, about ten minutes later Grey smacked a HR out of the Double B field.
And just a couple of weeks ago, I sat with Beth in the major stands watching CJ play, and he hit a 3-run HR.

There’s a reason there’s a Stephanie Woodard pavilion in this ballpark.

I miss Stephanie.
Our friendship was birthed in this ballpark, then grew through the incredibly bonding vehicle of baseball.
I feel her palpable absence in bleachers and stands, at football and basketball games, and at assemblies in the school auditorium.
I miss her dry sense of humor.
Her love for all those crazy kitten & cats she couldn’t say no to.
Her green thumb and pretty flowerbeds.
Her last-minute emails to anyone and everyone offering a Friday nighty “open house” swim party.
I miss her big grin and clear eyes.

Corbin and I were in the kitchen just asked a couple of weeks ago when out of the blue he asked, “Why in the world did Stephanie get cancer? Why did she suffer so much?”
I looked up at him, shocked, bc he was reading my mind.
Eight months out, the reality of her absence continues to sink in.

I don’t think Corbin or I will expect to understand this side of Heaven. But like many of us who have lost loved ones, it makes us long for Heaven that much more, bc it’s a very brilliant, daily reminder that this world is not our home.

We are all wired with a longing to leave a legacy.
This pavilion is a fantastic visual, a reminder of Stephanie’s legacy. Her dedication of course was not really to baseball, but to her family. She supported them, rallied around them, spoke highly of them, pushed them, and opened her home to an entire community time and time again.

I think often about what Steph would want for her boys. And I keep circling back to one thing - one gift we can offer her to continue and even increase the Woodard legacy, and that is for us to pray for her boys. Regularly, faithfully.

The timing of this dedication - sandwiched bt Good Friday and Easter morn - a time of spring, of new  birth and rebirth, a time of hope. 

Len, Dunson, Grey, and CJ WILL see Stephanie again. The hope of Christ, who is risen, confirms that. 

I'd like to conclude in the words of the great Paul Harvey, who year after year preached the shortest Easter sermon ever heard:

“Jesus lived a good life in a wicked world to show us it could be done. 
And he died. 
And he rose again. 

To show us... we could do that too.”